Girls Write Out
Saturday, December 22, 2012
James Scott Bell shared something one of his blogmates hinted at on their blog--that the world hasn't ended yet. It's apparently supposed to happen today by midnight, according to some. So maybe we're jumping the gun a little. I could wake up in heaven in an hour with mud on my face, though. I can't foretell the future. So shoot me. NO! Don't take me seriously!

Man, it's getting a little freaky here lately, to the point that I'm not sure what to blog. What if I say something offhand and some poor soul takes it seriously and reacts?

So anywho, where would you be if the world ended today? Where would you want to be? I think I would want to be doing what I'm doing right now--working on rewrites, helping Mel whip the new clinic into shape, getting back into church after so many weeks of missing with illness--this has NOT been a good year for that. Oh, and working on information for my audit with the IRS. Not that I feel I'm doing well, just that I know I'm not breaking any laws, but if they want to decide on a new law all of a sudden, I can't do anything about that. Some person who lives in a world of numbers instead of humans holds my financial fate in her hands. Or not. We'll see. Oh, the uncertainty of it all. I don't know who is trustworthy in the IRS, but if I have a trustworthy agent with these people, then I should do well. I've always been as honest as I can be. If it doesn't work out, don't blame me. You'll know I tried my hardest to make the numbers crunch the way the auditor wanted them to crunch. But personality comes into play quite often these days. It's so easy to make up our own rules, or twist the words of the rules we already have.

I'll let you know how it goes once the decisions are made. And now... I get to see my stepsons, their wives, a step-grandson, his grandmother, and what could be better than that? Let's forget the IRS and remember the joys at hand. Nothing is more important.

Hannah Alexander  
posted at 12:26 AM  
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Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Can you believe how fast Christmas has come upon us this year?  I'm playing host to a reader/friend from Australia and we are playing tourist in my hometown.  We've done the Winchester Mystery House today and this week, we'll probably do "Alcatraz" -- which is only the second time I've been.  I went last year with Hannah Alexander.  My mom, who has been born and raised here just informed me she's never been to Alcatraz!

So what are must-dos for you when you have friends/relatives come into town?  Will you get to do any of them this season?

Oh and I took her to Designer Shoe Warehouse. That's a rite of passage with me.

posted at 11:54 PM  
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Thursday, December 13, 2012
Some of you follow my blog and/or facebook so I'm sorry for repeating myself, but it's been a crazy week, to say the least.

I had a surgery on Friday that didn't bring the results we'd hoped. And with it came disappointments--I'd have to keep a drain, and get my nutrition from an IV bag. Not at all what we had anticipated.

The first day or two, I could only groan out to God. I couldn't find the words. My life forever altered. How could I endure it?  But then the clouds began to clear . . . a little. It may not be permanent, depending on if the scar tissue softens. The good news is it wasn't cancer causing the problem. Just past surgeries.

In the midst of it all, I had a couple of dark days. Feeling so alone. Wondering where God was in all of it. Needing something from Him that assured me He was there, but not sure what or how He could show me. So I kept praying and clinging to what I know from His Word. Trusting even when the feelings wouldn't come.

Then it happened.

We came home from the hospital, exhausted, weak, nauseas. I walked through the door into the kitchen with the family room visible just beyond the kitchen. I was absolutely blown over by what I saw.

I'd been wanting to paint the dark paneling in that room for years, but we never got around to it. Then I got sick and couldn't do it. Long story short, while we were gone, friends came in, painted the room, laid new carpet, donated GORGEOUS leather furniture and accessories (mirror, pictures, stand, lamp), made cabinets for beneath our bookshelves.

The love of God overwhelmed me! His people working together for US! We couldn't wrap our minds around it. But this I can tell you, I KNEW God was reassuring me that He loved me. He could see what we were going through and hadn't forgotten us. These precious friends were an extension of Him.

There are no words to express how we feel even now. As beautiful as the room is, it's the love that went into it that blows me away.

Every day is a gift. God loves you, dear one. Don't ever doubt it. It's true! This I know!

Diann Hunt  
posted at 9:00 AM  
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Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Tomorrow is my grandfather's 97th Birthday!!!  I'm going up to his apartment to have dinner with him to celebrate the feat of a life well-lived. He is, after all, my favorite person on earth.  Which could have something to do with the fact that he gave me my very first handbag:  A leather, American-Indian pouch with feathers that hung from it.

He is a WWII vet, a carpenter by trade and the most unselfish person I have ever met.  When I was dating my husband I told him that he'd better like me because my relatives lived a long time.  (I had all four of my grandparents until I was 37.)

However, even I didn't expect our mutual fan club would go on for this long, and I am so grateful! My mother told me not to spend any money on his gift, but to write him another note.  He still reads last year's and makes all the nurses read it out loud because he's so proud of me.

I think those special letters that I've written to people who have made a difference in my life are going to be my legacy.  As my grandfather's is generosity. My grandmother's was being "The Cookie Lady."

The world gets so caught up in accomplishments when it thinks of legacy, but it's much simpler than that to me.  It's about who you are at your core.  What you left on this earth to make other people matter.  Most of us will never be Rockefellers or Carnegies, but that makes us no less important.  Not to the people we matter to.  We'll never be average in their minds.  Whose legacy made a difference in your life?

Elle, My Grandpa & I Getting a Pedi

posted at 12:55 PM  
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Tuesday, December 11, 2012


I was at my publisher's last week for meetings. Over lunch on Monday we went out with my friends at Tommy Nelson. We got on a discussion of the TV reality show, Duck Dynasty. The girls started talking about the things the characters on the eat. They mentioned squirrel. Wait, squirrel is a normal thing to eat. At least it is in my neck of the woods. After much discussion (and shuddering on the part of the Tommy Nelson girls!) I realized what I thought was normal might not be normal at all.

My dad is a big hunter. I grew up on squirrel, rabbit, frog legs, and turtle soup. Every Thanksgiving you could count on my dad and brothers going rabbit hunting. My mom is really good at cooking all these things too, so I thought I'd share how to cook squirrel. It's really very good to. It tastes like a chicken thigh. My sister-in-law was here. She lives in AZ so the thought of it was very foreign to her, but she was game to try it. And she liked it. "Tastes like chicken," she said. 

So you take the cut up squirrel and dredge it in flour. If I were making it, I would use gluten free flour of course. Brown it in an iron skillet with some oil. When it's nicely brown, put about an inch of water or so in it and cover it, then put it in the oven at 350 and bake until falling off the bone tender. I think it usually takes about an hour in the oven. Take it out of the skillet and use the drippings to make gravy. My brothers say the gravy is the best part. :)

What about you? What is traditional food for you? 

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Colleen Coble  
posted at 9:20 AM  
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Sunday, December 09, 2012
How many drafts does it take to get to the end of a manuscript? If you ask 10 authors, you'll get 10 answers. Here's what works for me--a description of each draft and a look at my mental journey along the way--be very scared.

Draft #1
Time required: 5 months
This is where daily discipline comes into play. I work from a synopsis, but I don't always know what happens next. This method keeps things interesting for me. And if I don't know what happens next, how can the reader? :-)

Mental Outlook: Everything ranging from stark terror (This whole story blows!) to sheer delight (Hey, nice metaphor, Denise!)

Draft #2 
Time required: Fifteen minutes daily for 5 months
This draft happens daily during the five months of Draft #1. Prior to writing each day I read the previous day's work and do some tweaking.

Mental Outlook: Happy. This is easy peasy and a great way of procrastinating the writing of the first draft.

Draft #3
Time required: Sometimes none, sometimes an hour
This is easy because it's mostly done by Colleen. As I finish each chapter, I shoot it to her, and she tells me what's wrong. I just have to fix it. I make fixes before I go on unless it's too intensive (I don't like your heroine!) In such cases, I add it to a list of things to fix when the first draft is done.

Mental Outlook: Sometimes surprised by things I didn't consider or things I miscalculated. Always grateful for the extra set of eyes.

Time required: One day
Now it's time to go to my list of things that need fixing. Timeline stuff, changes I made in chapter 12 that will affect things in chapters 3, 6 and 8, and adding that great line of dialogue I thought of while taking my son to the orthodontist. This is my Honey-Do List except I'm the Honey that has to do it.

Draft #4
Time required: One week
This is when I go back and read the manuscript from start to finish. I look at the big picture (character arc, faith thread, the plot in general. This is the most objective view I'll ever get of my manuscript which is why:

Mental Outlook: Fear and trembling with a hint of throw-myself-in-front-of-a-bus.

Draft #5
Time required: One week
My focus narrows down to finer things: sentence structure, word choices. I focus on sentence clarity and brevity and tweak dialogue so that it sounds more realistic. I also make sure the setting and characters have adequate physical descriptions and that there are adequate sensory details to acclimate the reader to each scene.

Mental Outlook: Weeeeeeeeee! My favorite draft.

Draft #6
Time required: One week
I make another run-through doing all the same things I did in draft #5, picking up any typos I made. I jot out discussion question as I read through and add them to the end of the document. I finish with a spell-check. By the time this draft is finished, the manuscript as perfect as I'm capable of making it.

Mental Outlook: Why can't draft #1 be this fun?

Finale: Pry my fingers off the pages and turn it in to editor before deadline.

Mental Outlook: Yay I did it! mixed with What if she hates it? and Oh, why didn't I do this?

If you break down your job into phases, which is your favorite and least favorite?

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Denise Hunter  
posted at 9:25 PM  
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The Authors
Kristin Billerbeck
Kristin Billerbeck is a proud Californian, wife, mother of four, and connoisseur of the irrelevant. She writes Christian Chick Lit; where she finds need for most of the useless facts lulling about in her head.

Colleen Coble

Colleen Coble writes romantic suspense with a strong atmospheric element. A lovable animal of some kind--usually a dog--always populates her novels. She can be bribed with DeBrand mocha truffles.

Denise Hunter

Denise Hunter writes women's fiction and love stories with a strong emotional element. Her husband says he provides her with all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too.

Diann Hunt

Diann Hunt writes romantic comedy and humorous women's fiction. She has been happily married forever, loves her family, chocolate, her friends, chocolate, her dog, and well, chocolate.

Hannah Alexander

Cheryl Hodde writes romantic medical suspense under the pen name of Hannah Alexander, using all the input she can get from her husband, Mel, for the medical expertise. For fun she hikes and reads. Out of guilt, she rescues discarded cats. She and Mel are presently taking orders from four pampered strays.

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